In March 2024, Google rolled out two major updates that had a big impact on search engine optimization (SEO) and website management – the spam update and the core update. The goal of these updates was to improve the quality and relevance of Google’s search results.

The March 2024 core update and spam update aimed to remove up to 40% of low-quality websites that provide useless information and poor user experience. This cleanup drive focused on eliminating content that was unhelpful, irrelevant, or unoriginal, as well as sites that relied heavily on thin or duplicated content without offering unique insights. The updates were designed to improve the overall quality of search results by targeting spam and repetitive content, ensuring that search results are not only relevant but also fresh.

The target of the update was to reduce the presence of low-quality content in search results, which was a significant shift in Google’s approach to maintaining the quality of its search results. The updates were part of Google’s ongoing efforts to provide users with the most helpful and relevant information possible. The rollout of the update was expected to take up to a month to fully implement.

When the Update Started

Let’s look at the timeline. The spam update kicked off on March 5, 2024. Its mission was to clean up low-quality and spammy content from the search results. It took around 14 days and 21 hours to complete, wrapping up on March 20, 2024. At the same time, the core update began on March 5 and was expected to take about four weeks to finish.

During those weeks in March, websites felt the impact of these updates. Some sites saw their search rankings improve, while others got removed entirely from Google’s search index. It was a time of uncertainty for many website owners and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) experts as they adapted to the changes.

What Websites Were Targeted?

what websites were targeted

The spam update and core update targeted websites engaging in substandard practices like scaled content abuse, expired domain abuse, and site reputation abuse. Google wanted to penalize sites with low-quality, unoriginal content, emphasizing the importance of creating high-quality, original content.

Scaled content abuse means creating or copying a large amount of content, often using automated tools or cheap outsourcing services. The goal is to rank for many keywords.

Expired domain abuse involves buying expired domains that still have a lot of backlinks and using them to manipulate search rankings. The new owners often fill these domains with low-quality or irrelevant content, hoping to benefit from the domain’s previous authority.

Site reputation abuse refers to manipulating a website’s reputation by posting fake reviews, creating false social media profiles, or using other deceptive tactics.

The updates were particularly harsh on websites that relied heavily on AI-generated content to manipulate search rankings. According to data from SISTRIX and Originality.ai, a high percentage of AI-generated content was found among the deindexed websites. This suggests that Google’s March 2024 Core Update effectively targeted websites relying heavily on AI-generated content.

Ian Nuttall, a prominent figure in the SEO community, tracked the indexing status of 49,345 websites after the launch of the March 2024 Core Update. Of these, 837 websites had been removed entirely from Google’s search index. This represented approximately 1.7% of the websites in Nuttall’s database. The deindexed sites covered various categories and ad networks, highlighting the broad scope of Google’s actions.

However, it’s too early to tell whether these websites will remain deindexed, as several are already reappearing in Google’s search results. The consequences of being deindexed are severe for the affected websites. According to Nuttall’s analysis, the 837 deindexed sites accounted for over 20.7 million organic search visits per month before the manual action. The sudden loss of traffic is devastating for the impacted websites.

Furthermore, the deindexing is estimated to result in a monthly loss of $446,552 in displayed advertising revenue across the affected sites. These findings align with a recent study conducted by Originality.ai, which investigated the prevalence of AI-generated content among the deindexed websites. These results suggest that Google’s March 2024 Core Update effectively targets websites relying heavily on AI-generated content to manipulate search rankings.

The findings from Nuttall’s analysis and the study by Originality.ai underscore Google’s commitment to delivering high-quality, relevant, and original content to its users. The updates serve as a stark reminder to webmasters and SEO practitioners to prioritize content quality, user experience, and ethical SEO practices to maintain visibility and rankings in search results.

This is a testament to Google’s ongoing efforts to ensure that its users have access to the most relevant and high-quality information. It also serves as a reminder to all website owners and content creators of the importance of adhering to Google’s guidelines and prioritizing the creation of high-quality, original content.

Aftermath of the Update

The aftermath of the March 2024 spam update and core update was significant and far-reaching. The updates had a profound impact on the digital landscape, particularly on websites that were heavily reliant on AI-generated content to manipulate search rankings.

In the early stages of the update, over 800 websites were completely deindexed from Google’s search results. Deindexing is a severe penalty imposed by Google, which results in a website being entirely removed from Google’s search index. As a result, these websites no longer appear in Google’s search results, leading to a drastic drop in organic traffic.

The deindexed websites spanned various categories and ad networks, highlighting the broad scope of Google’s actions. This suggests that the updates were not limited to any specific industry or type of website, but rather targeted any website that violated Google’s guidelines.

However, it’s too early to tell whether these websites will remain deindexed, as several are already reappearing in Google’s search results. This could be due to these websites taking corrective actions to comply with Google’s guidelines, or it could be a result of Google’s ongoing review process.

The consequences of being deindexed are severe for the affected websites.

According to an analysis by Ian Nuttall, a prominent figure in the SEO community, the 837 deindexed sites accounted for over 20.7 million organic search visits per month before the manual action. The sudden loss of this traffic can be devastating for the impacted websites, as it can lead to a significant decrease in ad revenue and user engagement.

Furthermore, the deindexing is estimated to result in a monthly loss of $446,552 in displayed advertising revenue across the affected sites. This figure underscores the financial impact of the updates on the affected websites.

These findings align with a recent study conducted by Originality.ai, which investigated the prevalence of AI-generated content among the deindexed websites. The study found a high prevalence of AI-generated content among the affected websites, suggesting that the March 2024 Core Update effectively targeted websites relying heavily on AI-generated content to manipulate search rankings.

The aftermath of the updates serves as a stark reminder of the importance of adhering to Google’s guidelines and prioritizing the creation of high-quality, original content. It also underscores the risks associated with relying on manipulative tactics, such as the use of AI-generated content, to improve search rankings.

What Are the Chances of Recovery?

What are the chances of recovery

Recovery from the impact of the March 2024 spam update and core update is possible, but it requires a structured approach. Google advises affected sites to thoroughly review its spam policies to ensure compliance. Improving the quality, relevance, and user experience of your content remains key.

If you’ve been hit by the Google March 2024 core and spam updates, it’s important to take a structured approach to recovery. This involves carefully analyzing your site’s analytics to understand the extent and nature of the impact. You should re-evaluate your content, removing or improving pieces that may be considered low-quality or spammy.

Google will do periodic refreshes to the spam update. It can take many months to recover, Google said. This is because Google’s algorithm needs time to re-crawl and re-index webpages after changes have been made. Therefore, even if you make significant improvements to your website immediately after being hit by the update, you may not see an immediate improvement in your rankings.

It’s also important to note that recovery is not guaranteed. Some websites may not fully recover their previous rankings, even after making significant improvements. This could be due to a variety of factors, including the competitive nature of SEO and ongoing changes to Google’s algorithm.

While recovery from the March 2024 spam update and core update is possible, it requires a significant amount of work and patience. Websites affected by these updates should focus on improving the quality and relevance of their content, adhering to Google’s guidelines, and continuously monitoring their performance.

Conclusion

The Impact of March 2024 spam update and core update were a turning point in the world of SEO and website management. They aimed to improve the quality and relevance of search results, impacting SEO strategies and website rankings significantly.

The spam update, which started on March 5, 2024, and concluded on March 20, 2024, focused on combating low-quality content and spammy practices. It was a reminder to webmasters and SEO practitioners to prioritize content quality, user experience, and ethical SEO practices to maintain visibility and rankings in search results.

Simultaneously, the core update, which also began on March 5, 2024, was a comprehensive evaluation of search results and website rankings, expected to span four weeks. It emphasized the importance of adhering to Google’s guidelines and provided an opportunity for websites to recover from any penalties or demotions by addressing the issues that led to their deindexing or demotion.

In conclusion, the March 2024 spam update and core update underscored Google’s commitment to refining search quality and combating spam. These updates served as a reminder to the digital community to focus on ethical SEO practices and high-quality content to maintain their online presence and visibility in search results.

Impact of March 2024 Spam Update and Core Update was last modified: March 26th, 2024 by Md Azharuddin
Mohammed Azharuddin is Founder and Senior digital marketing trainer @ Web Trainings Academy. He has 16+ years of experience in training and digital marketing services.